Penn State student-athletes continue to top national academic averages

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State student-athletes continue to excel and again top Division I national averages, according to data released May 14 by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Six Penn State squads earned perfect multi-year APR scores of 1,000: field hockey, men’s cross-country, women’s cross-country, women’s golf, men’s tennis and women’s tennis. The average multi-year APR score for Penn State's 31 varsity teams is 984, easily above the Division I average of 976, according to the NCAA.

The Penn State women’s hockey team, which began as an NCAA varsity program in 2012-13, also earned a perfect score of 1,000 based on one year of data (not multi-year).

The NCAA released data from the 2012-13 academic year as the 10th set of results in the Academic Progress Rate (APR), a formula introduced as part of the Division I Academic Performance Program. The NCAA released sport specific data for 2012-13 to each institution, as well as the most recent four years of collected data that is used to determine a rolling four-year (multi-year) APR score for all athletic teams to provide a meaningful assessment of a team's academic performance.

“We are very pleased with this latest report of our academic successes and proud of the record of academic heritage and achievement established by our student-athletes,” stated Dave Joyner, Penn State director of athletics. "The academic achievements are a testament to our student-athletes, coaches, the Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes and the University as a whole as evidence of the commitment to educate and prepare our students for life beyond their Penn State experience.”

Highlights of Penn State’s Academic Progress Report for 2012-13:

-- The Penn State field hockey, men’s cross-country, women’s cross-country, women’s golf, men’s tennis and women’s tennis teams earned perfect APR scores of 1,000;
-- Among Penn State's 31 varsity teams, 24 have a four-year APR score at or above the NCAA Division I average (976) for all sports;
-- 25 of 31 teams have a score equal to or above the NCAA Division I average for their respective sport;
-- 30 of 31 Penn State teams have an APR score of 950 or higher (20 points above the NCAA’s 930 figure for possible penalties);
-- The Penn State football team earned an APR score of 954, three points higher than the Division I football average of 951;
-- The Nittany Lion basketball team earned an APR score of 964, seven points higher than the Division I men’s basketball average of 957;
-- The Lady Lion basketball team earned an APR score of 990, 17 points higher than the Division I women’s basketball average of 973;

Eight Nittany Lions squads have multi-year APR scores that rank in the Top 10 percent nationally for their respective sport: field hockey, men’s cross-country, women’s cross-country, women’s golf, men’s indoor track and field, men’s outdoor track and field, men’s tennis, women’s tennis. Earlier this month, those eight squads earned NCAA Public Recognition Awards for their superlative APR scores.

The Penn State women’s tennis team is one of only 146 teams among the 6,450 eligible (2.3 percent) that has earned eight consecutive Public Recognition Awards since the program began with APR data from 2004-05.

Penn State academic standards (Faculty Senate Policy 67-00) are higher than both the NCAA and Big Ten standards and are reflected in the APR reporting to the NCAA. Penn State student-athletes must have a higher grade point average than the NCAA and Big Ten minimum after their first through fifth semesters.

The APR scores are a measure of eligibility and retention/graduation for each student-athlete receiving athletic aid during the identified academic semester/year. Retention is evaluated for each student-athlete with the following question in mind: Did that student-athlete return to the institution the next semester (students can earn two points after the fall semester and two points after the spring and summer semesters). Eligibility is evaluated using NCAA, conference (if applicable) and institutional standards.

The APR is based on four years of data, with the most current year's data added and the oldest year removed to create a four-year (multi-year) rolling rate. Penalties can be applied if an athletic team's multi-year APR score is below 930.

Penn State student-athletes, who have captured a conference-best 15 Big Ten Championships and four NCAA titles the past two years, have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. A sampling of recent academic accomplishments includes:

-- A total of 96 Penn State student-athletes graduated last weekend;

-- A school record 65 Penn State student-athletes from eight winter teams earned Academic All-Big Ten honors. The previous mark for the winter sports season was 64 honorees, set in 2013. The 65 winter honorees brought Penn State's 2013-14 total to 149 (from 15 total sports);

-- A record total of 387 awards were presented to Penn State student-athletes at the 27th annual SAAB Academic Achievement Awards Banquet on April 15. The figure topped last year's record of 356;

-- A school record 468 Penn State student-athletes earned a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher during the 2013 fall semester, with 197 earning dean's list recognition;

-- A total of 84 Penn State student-athletes from seven fall sports earned 2013 Academic All-Big Ten accolades, the Nittany Lions' second-highest total in their 21 years in the Big Ten;

-- The NCAA's annual study of institutions nationwide in October 2013 revealed that Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to an 81 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2003-04 through 2006-07;

-- NCAA data last October also showed the four-year federal graduation rate average for Penn State student-athletes was 78 percent, significantly higher than the national average of 65 percent and tied for second among Big Ten Conference institutions;

-- Penn State's Katie Slay (women's volleyball) and John Urschel (football) earned first-team Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors last fall, with Slay being selected the Academic All-American of the Year for women's volleyball. Penn State has had 184 all-time honorees, the third-highest total among Division I institutions, with 38 Academic All-Americans honorees the past six years.

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Last Updated May 16, 2014